Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thoughts after SQUAT Camp.

I went to a few sessions at SQUAT camp. Haven't heard of SQUAT? You should read it, and then you should email the people who write it and find out more about them. You should think hard on the topics they're raising because I know I am.

It's time to question- I have been feeling dissatisfied having the same old arguments about the same old stuff. Not to say these things aren't valid, but I just feel that for me, it's time for something bigger, and deeper.

I realized lately that many conflicts are more around semantics rather than separate issues and isn't it lovely that we have the luxury of time to argue the better way to give loving care to women? I think it is- but I also wonder how the hell we get to the next level. Where are the visionaries? I suppose we all are visionary in our own way, and some visions must be huge, and they are lifted and carried by the smaller visions- and all are equally important. I am hungry for big visions and big shifts and big work, and big love.

Today I went to a session where we talked about abortion, doulas, and midwifery. We heard from someone who has worked in an abortion clinic for a long time with a big heart and a lot of passion - the holes are many in providing women good care. It's so parallel to birth- a huge medical event, consent forms, bright lights and protocols. Gone are the days when women went to their midwife with questions about how to terminate their pregnancy - we now go straight to our friends, and then straight to the clinic.

We've lost the knowledge to manage our own fertility- talking about cervical mucus is not something you do in polite company, generally. Often times even when women were frustrated with their birth control options they weren't interested in learning fertility awareness - I suspect there is something too 'real' to having to touch your vagina every morning, examine the mucus that lives there, chart it all. We've grown so distant from our own bodies that even this basic fundamental knowledge that every person should grow up knowing is saved for 'crazy and weird' women.

I've been thinking about offering abortion doula services to women and it's something I feel strongly about. However, I admit I'm afraid to advertise this service in connection with my birth doula services. I'm afraid to be targeted, I'm afraid to lose clients. I know I will find some solution that works - but for now I need to sit in this discomfort. It's been easy to be a doula and be relatively non-political, other than the occassional stirring of the bees nest. Who doesn't need a good sting now and then to remember they're alive, right? This is much bigger- people are murdered for working in abortion clinics. I feel no reservation about working through the clinic but taking it into my own hands and advertising that I offer these services- attaching a price to it? It does scare me a bit.

It was interesting to sit with women who are holding a vision of midwifery that I thought I shared until I realized I didn't. I'm unsure where to go with it. We talked about midwives teaching women how to do their own PAP smears, how to manually extract menstruation, and how acupuncturists might have something to say about non-surgical abortion techniques. We talked about how women have to go onto the internet and piece-meal an herbal regimen together in order to achieve an abortion in the privacy of their own homes, taking risks unto themselves and not thoroughly understanding what they're doing.

How can we retain this knowledge- I think it's at a point now where it must be recreated. Our history has been burned out of us and we're working hard to retain what we can salvage from those who came before us. Political issues like scope of practice and licensure and lawsuits and legality of midwifery, oversight, and so many other things muddy our vision and I know in my case, I did not SEE what I was forgetting about being a midwife. The continuum is not just from family to life, but from life to death as well. We are the witnesses and we hold vigil, and we are the ones that are invited to be present at life's pivotal moments. We hold the stories of families from beginning to end, and to back to beginning.

I still don't know who I want to be as a midwife but I know that I do not want to stand on the shoulders of the midwives who burned before me, who were jailed before me, who lost their families, their children and their lives before me, so that I could attend families in a way that is convenient and easy for me, and compromising for them.

What does it all mean? I don't know yet.


Niki said...

I meant to comment on your last post mentioning the desire to doula women through their abortions. One of my clinical placements was at a clinic that performed abortions. I could talk to you a little about it sometime if you don't know anyone else who has done that. It seems like most women didn't really want anything more than someone to hold their hand through the procedure and just be present and hold a calming space, but that's kind of my style anyway and it could be that they were just taking whatever I could give.

Even if we support womens' rights to abort a pregnancy, we often fall prey to this idea that it should be super-secret and private, and that they made that choice and should have to deal with it (the choice, the procedure, the processing) on their own.

I have a lot of thoughts on this and don't really want to clog up this space with them, especially since I'm not entirely sure what the whole SQUAT thing is and how to connect the thoughts there; you and I might be on entirely different pages here.

Alex said...

I have to admit, Ive been sitting here watching your SQUAT posts on fb in morbid fascination. I kept remembering that shirt that says - "Come over to the darkside, we have cookies" and chuckling to myself and waiting for you to tell me you were going on an Ayahuasca journey into quantum midwifery.. Not that ayahuasca isnt awesome ;).. but yeah...

Im sick of the over spiritualization, over fairytale-ization of birth. I think it harms women way worse then interventions and big bad OBs. Birth and life are messy and sometimes full of shit and bile and pain that clouds our spirit.

Birth is a moment, a day.. an act. It is not who we are. It is not who our children are. It does not chart the course of our future in motherhood, or that of our children. We do.

It's the journey that teaches the lesson. The journey calls the soul by it's myth.. and sometimes that myth embraces us, calling us in deeper... and sometimes we find the myth shatters us. But until we can name and embrace the myth, we can never see how it effects every aspect of our lives and births. And when our myth is:

Birth is X.. Birth should be X.. Doing birth this way makes you a more connected woman.. doing birth this way, makes more well adjusted children.. miss the "golden hour" and you're screwed...

We try so hard to make that myth reality we often miss the lesson that was in the journey.

"It was interesting to sit with women who are holding a vision of midwifery that I thought I shared until I realized I didn't." .

My ideas are radical in their differences to that side of midwifery. It's sometimes so odd to find myself on the other side now.. when that was my home for so long. A decade of being and sitting with hurting women that hurt others and called it passion..called it, "natural" and "the right way" and.. alot of other definitive words. You know my opinion on community.. how it can support us, or shame us. Until the birth community becomes more even, passion changing to love, imperatives changing to what ifs... the change you are looking for, the visionaries you are seeking, will be the same ones we have now in different skins.

I hope you find your place, between the extremes. Because there is no doubt in my heart that is the place of balance and health.